Metal Slug Advance E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

An all-new installment in SNK's series of delightfully frenzied side-scrolling shooters is coming to the GBA.

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Like many of SNK's franchises, the Metal Slug series has, over the years, accrued a zealously loyal fan base. The key to Metal Slug's cult success has been its ability to consistently deliver inventive and challenging side-scrolling shooter action time and time again, tied with a unique aesthetic that walks the line between gritty militaristic and anvil-dropping cartoony. SNK hopes to extend this success with the all-new Metal Slug Advance for the Game Boy Advance.

Hardcore fans will remember that this is not the first time Metal Slug has gone portable, with two original Metal Slug games appearing on SNK's own NeoGeo Pocket and NeoGeo Pocket Color platforms, but Metal Slug Advance will mark the first console-specific installment in the series since then. It seems that Metal Slug Advance won't be making any radical alterations to the tried-and-true Metal Slug formula, which sets a lone commando against seemingly endless waves of enemy troops and a fantastic array of outlandish military hardware, with blowing up everything in sight being the only available recourse.

Of course, you'll have a wicked arsenal of weaponry at your disposal, as well as regular access to "slugs," the nickname given to an oddball assortment of tanklike vehicles that you can use to obliterate the opposition. As far as cold hard facts go, we know that the game will be composed of five missions and that you'll traverse environments with names like subterranean dungeon, mysterious ruin, limestone cavern, lava zone, and subterranean lake--though, considering the over-the-top style in which the Metal Slug games are rendered, these levels are likely to be far more interesting than their names might lead you to believe.

Secret areas, alternate level paths, and hidden power-ups are all Metal Slug staples, and in this regard, MSA will stay true to its predecessors. The most unexpected feature that Metal Slug Advance promises is e-Reader support, which, in conjunction with Metal Slug e-Cards, will let you power up your character, though the specifics of what kinds of power-ups you'll get access to are yet unknown. Hopefully, we'll be able to get more information on this and other aspects of the game at E3, so be sure to keep an eye out.

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